Over To You: Best USB Sticks To Use In DJ Media Players?

usb drive victorinox

The Swiss Army USB drive has 2 x 8GB drives built in, and is one example of a drive that might be suitable for DJs – but we’re hoping that today, you can help us find some others.

Digital DJ Tips reader Jonathan writes: “I’m a resident at a club called Audio and Digital in Brighton, and like a lot of DJs I’ve switched from CDs to USB (which I consider digital as you are still playing MP3 files). However, there is very little information on which USB or SD cards are best for DJing. It might sound like a no brainer (just buy an expensive USB stick or SD card) but that doesn’t always solve the case. So far I’ve been through five USB sticks in the last year, all being 8GB and costing over £20, be it through spilling alcohol on them, general wear and tear or in one case the damn thing not fitting in the CDJ. Any recommendations for good brands that are reliable and durable?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

As media players and mixers become more and more “digital friendly”, we think the worlds of USB-style DJing and software DJing will continue to blur, and you may even find DJs who have a controller at home and DJ from the same collection via USB when they play out.

But this is nonetheless something we’ve never touched upon. Trouble is, the only USB sticks we have here are low-capacity corporate freebies, and we’ve never bought USBs specifically for DJing – or had one break on us when we have DJed from USB So I’d like to throw this one over to the readers, and see if anyone out there has recommendations for reliable USB sticks or SD cards specifically for DJing.

So – over to you. Can you help? Please post your recommendations in the comments.

Comments

  1. I-squared says:

    The Sandsik Cruzer Blade seems to be very good. It’s quick, reliable, small and light, can be attached to a key ring etc.
    I’ve had it for a while now (even though I wasnt using it with CDJs), and it never let me down.

    • I’ve had one until recently and I was satisfied with its resistance. There is one small problem — the part that goes into the USB port is plastic, not metal, and it cracks fairly easy.

      Now I have my eyes set on a super small Lexar: http://www.lexar.com/products/lexar-echo-zx-backup-drive-0?category=207
      The downside of this one is that you can’t really attach it to anything and being so small, I’m afraid of losing it.

    • +1
      I forgot my cruzer blade in my jeans, washed (washing machine & dryer) the jeans and found it after several days in the pocket, plug it to my laptop and CDJ…and it’s still working!

    • The SanDisk drives seem to work really good with the CDJs as I use them as well. They work really well in other devices like my car radio. I must say on the topic of durability you should just take care of your drive and remember that it’s not just the drive that gets damaged if your not careful. The CDJs are not as easy to replace as the USB port can go bad on it as well. As a PC technician I’ve seen way to many broken USB ports.

    • Cruzer Blade is actually extremely slow (by today standards) and feels cheap (feels like cheap recyclable plastic).

    • LegenDerek says:

      I just bought 2 SanDisk Cruzer Blade 16GB sticks to DJ with, and got up on stage 2 nights ago to start, and the damn things weren’t recognized… Any idea why?

  2. I can recommend the corsair survivor USB Stück (16,32&64GB available), ist very solide waterproof and can survive nearly everything. It has USB 3.0 and is very fast never had any issues using it on Pioneer cdj 2000 and 2000nxs.
    http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-Flash-Survivor-Drive-CMFSV3-16GB/dp/B005MHN6K2/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1354457416&sr=8-3&keywords=corsair+survivor

  3. I can totally recommend this one: Transcend JetFlash T3S 16 GB USB-Stick !!

    It is very small, pretty cheap, looks really nice in silver (or gold), reliable, fast transfer (for an usb 2.0), waterproof (!), hat a tiny protection case & a nice loop included. best for price on amazon..

  4. I would recommend any durable drive, such as Corsairs Survivor or Voyager, but you have to take some short cable, since those are pretty big. An interesting option also can be IronKey, or Imations secure drives in the metal casing version (Im using one). Those are just averagely fast, but the built quality is excelent (it would have to be in the drink for a while to get it in).

    And one thing, when the drive is not working (disconnected), it can survive a lot. My brothers cheapo drive survived around 8 times in the wash machine. There was only some detergent inside after it got dry.

  5. I am not sure how well they work with CDJ’s, but I love the new DJ inspired USB sticks (See links below). I will be utilizing the DJ Angelo one with CDJ’s next week, and expect that it will work fine.

    DJ Angelo Turntable Headshell USB drive 4GB – Comes packed with great training videos for scratching and beat juggling. http://store.djangelo.co.uk/product/turntable-training-tool-br-multimedia-usb-app-br-i-by-dj-angelo-i

    DJ Numark Turntable Headshell USB Drive 1GB (Different design then above) – Comes with the most recent DJ Numark Album on it. http://www.undergroundhiphop.com/dj-nu-mark-broken-sunlight-1gb/HPR007AC/

    Turntable Lab Headshell shaped USB Drive 8GB (designed to fit on a keychain) – http://turntablelab.com/products/turntable-lab-ttl-usb-key-black-8gb

    Yamaha NS-10M Speaker shaped USB Drive 16GB – http://www.undergroundhiphop.com/hip-hop-flash-drive-yamaha-ns-10m-16gb/HHFDNS10MACC/

    You can find even more DJ and Music production inspired USB drives over at http://www.undergroundhiphop.com

  6. £20 quid seems a bit steep for an 8GB just bought a 32GB for £14.00 (Intenso-USB Amazon)

    Kingstone seem reliable and durable had one for a few years now no problems.

    Verbatim seems reliable but durability no it’s held together with tape.

    Flashvoyager the USB is surrounded by rubber rather than plastic when it’s dropped it bounces :)

  7. The Kingston HyperX series are very fast and healthy – i have the 4, 8 & 16 GB versionn

  8. DJ Forced Hand says:

    If you want to ruggedize your MP3 Sticks, you’ll have to D.I.Y. the solution. Of the best solutions I’ve seen already was a regular 8 GB retractable stick of memory with a heat-shrink tube around it and an O-Ring toward the pluggy-part. The tubing tends to keep the body of the USB stick from breaking due to impact and definitely keeps out liquor. The O-Ring serves as a seal so that when you plug in the stick, liquor is less likely to penetrate the player. The parts can be found at most electronics shops and cost less than $5. I guess this will work until someone comes out with a totally metal, bullet proof case with flexible head (so you can’t sheer it off).

  9. DJ Majestic says:

    If Johnathan has spent over $160.00 (US) for five 8GB USB (40GB total) sticks he is throwing his money away. He could have bought a 2TB WD Passport for that price. Now in regards to the spillage:
    1. Be more careful and always safeguard all of your equipment.
    2. Purchase a USB extension and move the hard drive out of the way.
    3. Make sure the HD or Flash Drive is a copy of your primary library. Other it’s gonna be real expensive to replace.
    Hope this helps to save you some money.

    • Well he might be interested in the following:

      http://www.lacie.com/company/news/news.htm?id=10574

      Maybe this is what he’s looking for, if he wants to pay for it.

      Anyways he still needs to be more careful and I doubt there’s any water-proof solution.

      • That is exactly what i’m looking for! Something indestructible thank you so much.

        My advice: if your using USB, just pay the money and get the best if your playing out a lot as you would with a laptop, Midi controllers, soundcard etc. Its all very well buying cheap usb devices and protecting them with your life but its just another thing to go wrong and you don’t enjoy the night as much. Trust me I speak from experience ;-)

        Anyway thanks for all of your help guys!

  10. Javi Garcia says:

    SanDisk Cruzer Fit 32GB USB 2.0 hands down

  11. UHS-1 is the fastest class SDHC/SDXC card on the market.
    They are made by SanDisk.

    (about UHS-1 class)
    http://www.integralmemory.com/faq/what-uhs-1

    If you’re playing with WAV or even 24-bit WAV, speed is nice.
    UHS-2 is not out yet, but will have even higher performance.

    CDJ-2000s will work with USB 3.0 sticks, but only at USB 2.0 speeds.
    When this changes, anything less than USB 3.0 will be pointless?

    I hate to say it, but if you’re using 320kbps mp3, any stick will be fine so long as it is reliable and has a decent read-speed of 20mb/sec+.

  12. Chuck van Eekelen says:

    The most important criterium in your case is apparently the mechanical sturdiness. Anything with sliding connectors is more susceptible to liquids penetrating the housing and connecting with the electronic innards. So the “old-fashioned” style with a cap is a lot better. Usually they are sealed tight all around.

    Especially with the price of 8GB models (Sandisk Cruzer Blade @ 4,50 euros), buying 10 of them, making 10 copies and have some with you on gig should be easy to do. And assuming you get paid an normal fee for spinning, even if you’d lose two EACH night you spin, the cost would be less than 10,00 euro a night :-). I agree with the tip of getting an extension cord and placing the actual stick out of harms way. You could even consider buying a watertight box (think caymon sells them amongst others, or else check boating shops), installing two USB connectors, seal them with silicone. Then you can put two sticks inside the box and run two cables from the box to the CJD’s. The chance of them getting so much liquid on them it will stop them from working is near zero.

    Finally, as far as the quality of the sticks themselves (electronic components), there isn’t a whole lot of difference. Most of the actually memory chips come from 2 factories. A lot of the controller boards which hold the memory chips are oem made, i.e. also manufactured by a limited amount of factories.

    So, look for mechanical sturdiness, the lesser moving parts the better. Just go for the lower priced ones and get a good handful so you always have a spare with you. Go for the failsafe route with a watertight box if you really want to be sure nothing happens to your sticks.

    Greetinx & keep on spinning!
    Chuck “DJ Vintage” van Eekelen

    • Chuck van Eekelen says:

      A few p.s. notes:

      p.s.1: Unlike hard disks and actually quite similar to SSDs (Solid State Disks, which are effectively really big memory sticks :-)) USB sticks have a limited life span. I’ll save you the technical details, but the amount of times you can write to a stick is limited. When used intensively (changing a cue point or adding a loop causes complete rewrite on the stick) the lifespan can drop to a year or less. It isn’t vinyl after all.

      p.s.2: I saw someone suggesting using (BIG) hard disks. Unfortunately HD’s are very delicate as far as (sudden) movement is concerned. One slight drop might be enough to kill it. And they get warm, or even hot. Playing music from them (especially lossless, like WAV) means a LOT of reading and keeps the disk busy pretty much full time, generating quite a bit of temperature. Often the external HD housing has no or just a tiny ventilator (usually loud) to cool them. And like everything electronic, too warm is bad. If you need more speed, durability and/or storage space than a USB stick (max now 64GB I think) an SSD would be the safer bet. No moving parts, so totally shock resistant (well, unless you actually physically break it) and stays a whole lot cooler. Totally silent, cause there is no ventilator at all.

  13. Smasherelly says:

    I’ve recently djed for an artist using the Swiss army USB sticks. No problems with them. Kingston & SanDisk are always coming up as highly recommend.

    Just to say its quite nice using USB when I only have to play and scratch for 4 or 5 songs compared to setting up Traktor Scratch Pro. I always carry my tsp stuff just in case but knowing I can use USB and not have to worry about wires & walking round the club with my laptop is nice.

  14. This is what I’ve been using. May be a bit of overkill but it gives me a sence of security/durability.
    http://m.digitaltrends.com/flash-drive-reviews/lacie-xtremkey-review/

  15. Go for this
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233042

    Fast and It can hadle dops..

  16. Both USB and SD are both excellent choices for DJing, they are small and can hold a lot of data. Most USB sticks are the same seeing as most of us run on USB 2.0, and not many systems have eve upgraded to 3.0 yet. 2.0 runs at 480 Mbps which is more than enough for ANY song since even WAV files top out around 1200 kbps, so the upgrade to 3.0 is almost unnecessary. Using SD is where it gets a little tricky. Not all SD runs at the same speed. Some run at 1 Mbps and others run at 10 Mbps, and after you get above 2 GB on the card, you’re in a different compression rate and not all controllers can read that. Fortunately, all of this IS marked on the outside of the card itself. Now most people know how to read the size, but the speed is actually that tiny little number in the circle. The number being in Mbps of transfer. Once you can figure that out, you’re golden. Hope that helps.

    • Sander Kalsbeek says:

      480 Mbps is the maximum theoretical speed for the USB 2.0 protocol, but most affordable USB sticks don’t exceed read and write speeds of a few Mbps.

  17. Adam Pann says:

    I’m super knew to djing so what is the difference between usb djing and digital?

  18. Sander Kalsbeek says:

    My philosophy when it comes to USB sticks for DJ use is that they should be small, sturdy (preferably metal) and they have no moving parts. That’s why I bought 2 Kingston Datatraveler SE9 32GB sticks (http://www.kingston.com/us/usb/personal_business#dtse9h). They’re made of a single piece of aluminium, they’re only as wide as a USB port so they’ll fit anywhere and they aren’t too expensive. They also look quite good, which is always nice.

    • I bought the same Kingston 32gb SE9 but I cant use it with my CDJ 2000 Can you help me?

      • Hopefully you’ve figured this out by now, but you need to use Rekordbox (download it for free from Pioneer) to load your tracks on to your USB drive. Your drive also needs to be formatted to the FAT32 protocol in order to use it with CDJs.

  19. How are you guys even using USB sticks… I’m finding even 64GB too small? I prefer a USB 3.0 500GB+ Hard Drive. Preferrably SSD, but the Seagate Backup Plus has NTFS compatibility with Windows and Mac w/o formatting and also has the adapter to upgrade to Thunderbolt. This is the one that I have, and it’s worked beautifully:

    http://www.amazon.com/Seagate-Backup-Portable-External-STBU1000100/dp/B00829THO6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354759860&sr=8-1&keywords=seagate+backup+plus

    If you get the combo with the case, you have something that will protect it from spilled drinks at least until you can slap that person in the face and the bouncers kick them out ;)

  20. You should check out my friends over at http://www.usbmemory.com they can make some sick custom ones. I just got some real awesome ones on it with my name laser engraved in a custom shape

  21. to me:SANDISK CRUSER FIT (downside is it’s easy to lose).

    I use several from KINGSTON AND SANDISK, but the best I recommend is SANDISK CRUSER FIT. It is really small, comes with a small protective cover, and when atached, it fits almost flush to the usb connector. So there’s nearly no risk of hitting it or something that could damage both the pendrive or the usb connector. You can even pack your gear without removing it, since it is so small that your gear will still fits its regular case/bag.

  22. Forgot to mention, I use it with my “backup” NUMARK IDJ2 and it works perfect. Also when transfering data from the computer it works very fast too.
    anyone else using the good old NUMARK IDJ2? any issues?

  23. I use the Sandisk Facet ones,

    it’s all metal connecting with plastic around it, and the best part is that they are colour coordinated, have a new niggles around but that’s Pioneer’s fault, but nonetheless, 2 32GB Blues for a majority of my music I already have as backup, 2 16GB Silver Facets for my current Set, and 2 Red 16GB for Emergency uploading tracks from Rekordbox!!!.

    You can’t go wrong with that combination!!!

  24. I have been using usb sticks now for 18 months. I use sandisk cruzer pop 32gb sticks. Ive never had a problem, and take 4 with me when im djing. I wouldnt risk using anything else.
    I also use seagate 1tb external hard drives which are good – but that’s a completely different topic but thought I’d throw that in if it helps anyone :)

  25. I Currently use (2) PNY 32 GB USB Flash drives on my key chain. They are small too….about the size of 2 keys on your keyboard. One has my mixes and DJ music. The other is a back up and with other jams on it.

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